Every year but two for the last 40 years, people have seen a cost-of-living increase in their Social Security checks, an inflation adjustment. But, they will see no increase at all in their Social Security benefit in 2016. To make matters worse, a new report from the Center for Retirement Research, reveals that, unless there is a work-around, some people with Medicare will see almost a 50 percent increase in their Medicare Part B monthly premium. And, most people with Medicare will have less disposable income for non-health care related expenses.
Significant Medicare premium increase for about 15 million people: About three in ten people with Medicare will have to absorb the full 25 percent of Medicare Part B program costs in their premiums that the other 70 percent of people with Medicare will be exempt from paying. Under the law, Medicare premiums cannot increase for most older adults and people with disabilities if their Social Security benefits do not also increase.
However, people who are just joining Medicare, or who have an income-adjusted Medicare premium, or who have Medicare and Medicaid, can face premium increases. And, because the law requires Medicare Part B premiums to cover 25 percent of program costs, the 30 percent of people with Medicare for whom premiums can rise will have monthly premiums of at least $159.30, up from premiums as low as $104.90. Couples with incomes of more than $428,000 will have monthly premiums of $509.80.
Less disposable income for non-health-related expenses for most people receiving Social Security benefits: Because health care costs are rising faster than non-medical costs, people with Medicare who rely on Social Security for some or all of their income, receive lower net Social Security benefits after health care expenses each year. (People with Medicare spend an average of $5,000 on health care costs Medicare does not pay for.) Also, Medicare premiums have been rising more than twice as fast as the Social Security benefit, even with the cost-of-living adjustment. As a result, each year, people with Medicare have less disposable income for non-health-related expenses.
Keep in mind that more than half of households 55 and older do not have any retirement savings, and Social Security benefits represent an average of 52 percent of income for people over 65. It’s no wonder that the vast majority of Americans want to expand Social Security benefits or keep spending as it is. Today. many people are claiming Social Security benefits early, taking a 25 percent cut in benefits to do so, and people with low incomes are being hurt disproportionately.